Things have been a bit serious on the blog as of late. Life provided much fodder for reflection and contemplation. I feel it’s time to lighten things up again, and what better way to do that than to focus on some of the absurdity that surrounds us.
That is, of course, a subjective opinion. What is common place and normal here would not strike the locals as absurd. But for those of us, still in a “fish out of water” state, there are things that strike us as curious on a daily basis.
I think there is a general impression of sophistication about life in Europe. Chanmpagne and prosciutto on the train, sipping Gluhwein at any time of day for the entire month of December, handmade Italian leather shoes and designer handbags, undesputably top-drawer style living.
So when something contradicts this, it is so perplexing.
Take grocery shopping for example. Still a significant portion of my every day life here. There is an absurdity to this routine that is comical. Collecting your groceries is standard, lovely displays, tempting selections, all good. It’s when you pay that things fall apart.
The fact that I leave the grocery store a bit sweaty and flustered from all the effort feels decidedly unsophisticated too.
The other thing that makes me feel sweaty is seeing the deep-Arctic wear that is commonplace now that the temperature has dropped below 10 degrees.
The facades of the Swiss homes hold exceptional importance in how a Family presents themselves. They are typically emaculate, styled and timeless.
The exterior displays are always so enviable and sophisticated until the family has a baby…
Now if this child grows up and hopes to have a little fun in his neighbourhood he’d better think twice.
The appearance of rampant graffiti and discarded chewing gum on EVERY outdoor surface shows that not everyone is attempting to uphold a reputation of orderliness and sophistication.
To borrow an excerpt from Diccon Bewes’s book Swiss Watching, here is his take on the graffiti issue:
“…Graffiti seems to be the Swiss disease…What mystifies me is why the Swiss put up with the graffiti. Everyone I talk to about it seems to shrug their shoulders and say that it’s a fact of life. And this in a country where there are strict rules about everything from rubbish bags to Sunday DIY. Switzerland works so well and is so clean precisely because the rules are there and are strictly enforced, often by communal will. But when it comes to graffiti, the rules seem to go out the window. Sprayers, as they are known in Swiss German as well, appear to be treated far more leniently than someone whose car is parked slightly over the blue line. Very odd.”
Not to appear self righteous – we definitely contribute our own level of absurdity to this mess. I am confident that people are shaking their heads in contempt at us far more than I am aware. It’s full circle.
For instance, just this week I attempted to make a favourite dessert from back home as the special Friday treat. Having successfully smuggled the chocolate wafers here from my recent trip to Canada, I was excited to make the kids chocolate log.
It was an epic fail.
Never in my life have I failed so epically at a fool-proof dessert. Thank heavens I hadn’t invited company to share in this humiliated culinary disaster.
A special absurdity in our home this week is a whole lot more pleasant. Every morning as I depart to work Manolo says “buy yourself something pretty today.” Inevitably I don’t. He has become fed up with my inability to spend money on myself so he has taken matters into his own hands. He is now providing flowers on what is becoming a fairly regular basis.
Might be sneaky on my part but I plan to keep holding out on the shopping if it means I’ll get fresh flowers every week. 15 years of marriage and I finally figured out the trick to fresh flowers.
Today’s absurdity came courtesy of hockey and Manolo’s cousin Andreas. The game was at an arena where the transit schedule includes a fairly long walk to arrive at the destination. The forecast today was blustery, cold and totally miserable. (Who’s wishing for a giant parka now!?)
Andreas loaned us his car. It felt like a total luxury to arrive at hockey in our own wheels today.
Here’s to making it through another week and all the absurdity waiting for us in the next one.